The architect was John Portman. The complex hosted the 1980 Republican National Convention--which nominated Ronald Reagan as its presidential candidate.
Drivers on Beaubien Street crossing into the Renaissance Center were greeted this collection of protest signs, including one that reads "GM forces women to perform oral sex in order to keep their jobs. Read federal case: Placido vs. General Motors."
The man holding the sign was camera shy--he's hiding behind the oral sex sign.
After the federal take over of GM, the automaker floated a cost-cutting idea to move out of the RenCen to the suburbs, possibly Warren, which is just north of 8 Mile Road. But the "hands off of GM" policy of the White House quashed the move.
The Renaissance Center has a 15 percent vacancy rate.
More from the Mackinac Center via Stuff That Black People Don't Like:
Indeed, the $350 million (in 1970s dollars) "Renaissance" Center was supposed to anchor Detroit's revival. According to The Detroit News, on unveiling a plaque dedicated to the building's private financiers, Henry Ford II (who conceived the Center) said, "Detroit has reached the bottom and is on its way back up."Honestly, I believe Detroit still hasn't reached its nadir.
In 1996, the Center was sold to General Motors for just $76 million, a fraction of what it cost to build. It is difficult to overcome the message such a return on investment sends to entrepreneurs and other investors. The failure of the Renaissance Center to generate an actual renaissance in the Motor City should have undermined municipal leaders' faith in the power of big symbols.